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Obama accepts Wilson's apology

From NBC's Athena Jones
WASHINGTON -- President Obama addressed the outburst by South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson after a Cabinet meeting this morning, saying he accepted the congressman's apology for having interrupted his speech to Congress.

During remarks, in which Obama sought to shoot down erroneous reports that his health care plan would cover illegal immigrants, Wilson shouted, "You lie" --  comments for which he apologized last night and again today.

The president said it was important to be able to discuss important issues civilly and that the media could help by not giving all its attention to the loudest and shrillest voices. He said the American people were turned off by name-calling and sharply ideological approaches to solving problems. Asked if he would speak with Wilson if the congressman called, the president said, "Oh, I talk to everybody."

Here are Obama's remarks:

"I'm a big believer that we all make mistakes. He apologized quickly and without equivocation, and I'm appreciative of that. I do think that, as I said last night, we have to get to the point where we can have a conversation about big, important issues that matter to the American people without vitriol, without name-calling, without the assumption of the worst in other people's motives. We are all Americans; we all want to do best for our country.

"We've got different ideas, but for the most part, we have the same aims, which is to make sure that people who work hard in this country and who act responsibly are able to get good jobs, good wages, raise their families, make sure those kids have a good education; that they are protected from misfortune or accident by having health care and retirement security in place; want to keep people safe -- and that's why our national security team is so important.

"Our goals are generally the same, whether we're Democrats or Republicans, and in fact, most Americans don't even think about those labels all that much. They are turned off when they see people using wild accusations, false claims, name-calling, sharply ideological approaches to solve problems. They want pragmatism; they want people to stay focused on the job. And I hope that some of the fever breaks a little bit. The media can always be helpful by not giving all the attention to the loudest or shrillest voices, and try to stay a little bit more focused on the issues at hand."